120 film loading problems

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by mark4583|1, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. I have Paterson tank and duel reel system, I have no trouble loading 35mm but the 120 tends to stick and bind while trying to load on the real, is it me or should I consider another reel type for 120?
  2. Make sure that the reel is CLEAN and DRY.
    Also make sure that the film width adjustment is correct, and not too tight.
    A trick that I was told is to clip the leading corners of the film at say 45 degrees, so that you do not have a flat surface hitting the ribs of the reel.

    The wider 120 film is more flexible than the narrower 35mm film, and that sometimes gives people problems.

    Finally, get a dummy/old roll and just practice.
    First with your eyes closed. Then open it when it sticks/binds, then try to figure out why it stuck.
    ed_farmer likes this.
  3. I have a very low opinion of Paterson reels. Jobo would be my choice if I was forced to choose a plastic tank & reel system. As it is, I took the time to learn how to load a stainless steel reel and haven't looked back.
  4. any SS brand you would recommend?
  5. Hewes are the best SS reels if you're buying new. But any used Nikor one that isn't bent is fine as well. Just avoid "made in China", some of those come bent from the factory.
  6. Does Hewes make 120 reels?

    I swear by them in 35mm, and in fact now that I have built up a dozen or so Hewes all my other brands have been cycled to a big box in the back of my closet.

    Most of my 120s are Nikor and Omega, though. Both of those have "thick" spirals that in my experience are both easy to load and also fairly resistant to bending. I have some cheap 120 reels that have the same "thin" spirals as commodity 35mm reels, and I don't use those.

    If Hewes made 220 reels, I'd be all over them, as I have a hard time finding any decent quality 220 reels even though I have a bunch from camera store grab bags and even cherry picking ones that looked good from similar lots.
  7. Unfamiliar with patterson, not warmed up with stainless steel; so I recommend Jobo, which worked for me. Film brands might matter. Ilford had thinner carrier than Kodak or am I mixing stuff up?
  8. According to the stamping on a couple of my 120 reels, yes.

    There are some 'unbranded' reels that are as good as Hewes, and my 2 reel tank has no maker's name on it, but works just fine.

    The thing to look out for in a 120 reel is how the central retaining clip is set. Look for a clip that can be pushed open with your left thumb (if you're right-handed). Some useless clips point toward the film-entry direction and can't be opened without pushing down through the film - don't buy such a spiral!

    With 35mm reels; look for ones that have two small claws that pick up the sprocket holes, and avoid ones with a spring clip or single spike altogether.

    WRT 220 reels (reelly!? Who uses 220 these days?) They have to use thin wire in order to fit in a standard diameter tank.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  9. Adorama has Hewes reels for both 120 and 220, although the 220 are special order (hewes reel buy or learn at Adorama). I have the 120 reel, and find it almost as easy to load as their 35mm. Since there are no sprocket holed, there are no prongs, but both the reel and spring clip are very sturdy and well designed.
  10. Yes, I know they have to be thin, but I'd hope higher quality ones than what I have would be available.

    I still have a bunch of TXP 320 in 220...I love the film(you can only now get it fresh in sheet film, and most used stock is 220).
  11. SCL


    You shouldn't be having issues with the Paterson reels. I'd say just a little practice with a sacrificial roll and you'll be fine.
    bgelfand likes this.
  12. As with some here, I learned on SS reels, so for me, it is easier to use than a plastic reel. To each, his own.

    I use the old Honeywell-Nikor reels for 120.
    I do not feel that Hewes has a big advantage with 120 as they do with 35mm. Unlike 35mm film, 120 film does not have sprocket holes to hook into.

    I was told that because of the wider width of 120 film, the film flexes, and it is harder to roll onto SS reels. I did not experience that problem.

    My experience with the center clips on SS reels has been mixed, usually bad.
    When you put the film under the clip, if you do not CENTER the film well, as you start to wind the film on the reel, the film will start to push off center and kink on the reel. I found that once the film edge is kinked, it is REALLY HARD to unkink it and roll it on successfully. On 35mm film, we would simply cut of the kinked section, and restart winding the film, accepting that we lost frames when we cut the kinked section off.
    So, I do NOT use the clip (both 35mm and 120). I simply put the film into the center of the reel, where it self-centers, hold it down with my finger, and start winding.

    The problem with finding old Nikor reels, is that the tanks are brand marked, but NOT the reels. There is no place to mark the reels.
    IF you are lucky, you will find a matched set of Nikor tanks and reels.
    Caution when going through the used bin in the store. Tanks and reels from different manufacturer could have been mixed up, so you could get a Brand-X reel in a Nikor tank.

    When I look at a used reel:
    • First I look for damage. I look to see if the sides of the reel are parallel, and that the reel is not bent from a drop to the floor. The 36x reels use a thinner wire than the 20x reels, which is easier to damage if dropped.
    • Next I look at the finish of the reel. You want a nice SMOOTH finish, so that the film will slide easily into the reel. If it feels rough, reject it.
      • Run your finger nail between the wires. If your nail hits a burr, so will the film = reject.
    I do not know about the Hewes tanks, but Nikor tanks were famous for the cover leaking and getting stuck on the tank and the fill cap getting stuck.
    • Leaking. We just ran masking tape around the tank/cover joint, no leaking. Easy fix.
    • Stuck fill cap. We always had a can opener nearby, so if the cap got stuck, it was easy and fast to get the can opener under the edge of the cap and pop it off. A key would also work. Later caps had a tab spot welded on, so you had something to pull up on, if it got stuck.
    • Stuck cover. Some times we turn the tank upside down and shake it, so the reel pounded the cover off from the inside. Sometimes we use a rubber sheet, so we could get a good grip on the cover. This was a hassle, but luckily did not happen often.
      • Do NOT use a crushing jar opener, or you will bend and distort the cover.
    Someone later came up with a tank with a plastic cover. It did not leak and did not get stuck.
    But over time, the plastic aged and cracked.
  13. None of that should matter, and that's certainly been my experience.

    The film should be curved by your fingers to pass over the wire and pop into the spiral groove. Therefore the finish of the wire and any small welding protrusions are irrelevant. In fact Hewes spirals often have a rougher finish than no-brand ones, because the wire used is more substantial and the welding more secure.
    What's this 'we' kimosabe?
    I've never had to chop frames off a kinked film in my entire life.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
  14. FWIW, I have never used center clips. On my Hewes 35mm reels, I do use the "spikes" to hook sprocket holes, but on 120 I've found that the clips tend to distort the film and make rolling it more difficult. I just tuck the end into the center, and go from there.

    I'm off to Ebay now to look for Hewes 120 reels. My first 35mm Hewes reels were a revelation, especially after years of using whatever cheap reals and the occasional prized Nikor or Omega I could get in free or cheap odd lots when I was in college.
  15. Man , I gotta tell you folk that actually use the clip in SS film reels , you have my admiration :) . I just push the
    film through from the outside until it's all in the reel . It's waaayyy easier ( for me , of course ) , and YMMV , Peter
  16. The clip is there for a reason: It prevents the film from sliding out of the reel while handling the loaded tank. The little balls in the Paterson type plastic reels serve the same purpose.
    rodeo_joe|1 likes this.
  17. Proof positive that Hewes reels exist in 120 size -
    Just for completeness; why Hewes reels are a cut above the rest -
    The Hewes clip. Sensibly designed and placed.

    Unbranded spiral. You can see by how white the pressure points on my thumb and fingers are, that the unbranded clip requires a lot more effort to hold open.

    The Hewes film-path. Pretty much straight from the clip into the spiral groove.

    The clip on the unbranded reel introduces a sharper bend in the film before the film - eventually - enters the spiral, after taking a detour around one of the reel's cross-members.

    And the above unbranded reel is one of the better ones! I got rid of all the hopeless cases that were film-kinks waiting to happen.

    Note to self. Maybe a macro ring-light isn't the best thing for lighting shiny stainless-steel subjects. Sorry folks!
  18. I guess you are just better at it than we were.
    When it kinked, we could not unkink the film so it would go between the wires properly.
    The kinked part of the film easily rekinked, and jumped the wires. So it was just frustrating to deal with.
  19. Errr, you are loading your stainless spirals from the centre out, aren't you? And not trying to feed the film into the spiral from the outside, like a plastic reel?
  20. Loading a reel is one of the things I'll do when I'm sitting at my desk and need to keep my hands busy while I think. I've got a roll of practice film that I'll load/unload while my mind is elsewhere - it's basically muscle memory by now. Either that or pick locks.
    rodeo_joe|1 likes this.

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